I have just gotten through reading Aardvark's column for the second time and the only thing I can say is "Huh"?
I respect Aardvark. Really I do. But this article fell along the lines of one of the 12,000 "this puts sports in perspective" columns that sports writers feel moved to write when the country goes to war, or someone dies young, or if there is some other tragedy. Somehow, it is assumed sports fans are lunatics who have below average understanding of this grand universe.
Back during the post-move fall out, dolt extraordinaire Art Donovan said something along the lines of "this is not a tragedy little kids dying of cancer is a tragedy." Gee... thanks Art! I had those two on par with each other and really needed a washed-up blob to put it in perspective for me.
Which brings us to Modell. "Get over him", Aardvark says. Well, for the most part, I think we have. The Browns have now been back longer than they were gone. Most of this off-season has been spent debating the QB situation, preparing for and analyzing the draft, and so forth. When discussing bad memories, I have had more conversations about the Drive, the Fumble, and Red Right 88 than the Move.
The move has gone down as a footnote in Browns history. Modell was not a story until he made himself one.
The Ravens owner keeps reciting the mantra "I had no choice." Keep telling yourself that, Art, because no one else wants to hear it.
Forget the he-said, she-said recriminations between the city and Modell. He claimed he couldn't get a stadium built and he wouldn't have been able to sell the team. A stadium got built. I know, because I walk by it on my way to work every day.
He says he couldn't have sold the team. But, when the Browns were up for sale, many deep-pocketed bidders - all of whom were better businessmen than Modell - stepped forward prepared to pay top dollar. He could have sold, walked away with more money than he or his children could have ever spent, and still maintained his stature. Those of us who were at the Steelers game in November saw a very moving tribute to Al Lerner, and I know somewhere Modell was thinking that could have been him someday. It never will be and it's eating him alive. He chose a different path. It cost him a spot in the Hall of Fame. It cost him some friends. It cost him his legacy.
As we all know, this will be the last year for Modell as an NFL owner. He will walk away in January with a $325 million check and a Super Bowl ring. Apparently, though, Modell has finally realized at 79 years old there are more important things in life than money. Something the rest of get at a much earlier age.
Modell wants to be loved and forgiven. But if he can't have that, he wants us to feel sorry for him.
Sorry, Art, it's not going to happen. We don't feel bad for people who sell us out.
But we have moved past the anger. We don't care. Until someone brings it up.
So here comes Aardvark. He says "Modell is not Hitler. He is not Saddam". Wow. Thanks. I had them confused.
A guy who moved a football team and two genocidal maniacs, I can't tell the difference.
Modell has been relegated to the status of the playground bully from our childhoods. We don't sit around actively plotting ways to get even. We don't actively think about it. We don't pray that bad things happen to him.
Like anyone, if the name of the bully were to come up, I might say "I hate that guy." If I was to find out the guy is cleaning bathrooms in a bad part of town, I might laugh. Why? Because he was a bad guy who deserved to have bad things happen to him.
In essence I have forgotten but not really forgiven. Does that make me a bad person? I don't care. Don't lecture me about it. Don't get on your high horse and claim some higher plane of understanding. I have moved on from the events of 1995. I am not angry about them anymore. Just don't bring them up.